The Metaphysical Movement
The Metaphysical Club of Boston
The Spirit of The New Thought
Edited by Horatio W. Dresser
[From a statement issued by the Metaphysical Club, Boston, in The Higher Law, November, 1901.]
The Metaphysical Movement, popularly known as the New Thought, is the result of an earnest search for truth, wherever it may be found, in a spirit that is non-sectarian, inclusive, and constructive. Fearlessly questioning the authority imputed to any dogma, creed, or person, it is a sincere attempt to discover the best in the wisdom of the ages, and to thus formulate a philosophy of life that shall be fundamental and at the same time practical. This philosophy must regard all the facts of life as we find them in the universe. At the same time it must have some great reality for its basis; and it must be applicable to the various phases and experiences of the busy, active life of man in this present world.
The most important and distinguishing teaching of the New Thought philosophy is that ideals are realities, and that all primary causes are internal forces. As God is in His world, and not external to it, the ever-creative Mind, of which the material universe is the visible word, so the great truth runs through everything that mind is primary and causative, while matter is secondary and resultant. Every material form is the outward expression of some inward quality, which is spiritual. In the mineral, the vegetable, and the animal worlds there is something within each species that perpetuates it after its kind. In the human species, the highest form of creation, there is not only the animal life, which can reproduce itself after its kind: there is bestowed upon man a mind and a soul, with powers of thought, of reasoning, and of aspiration, which may transcend and transform and glorify the animal nature. To him is given the privilege to share in that divine process which is ever working to bring into manifestation more and more of the beautiful, the good, and the true. Through right thoughts and right ideals, man may so harmonize his life with the divine plan that there shall ever come to him a fuller measure of those external conditions which we may believe belong to a true human life in this present world, among which are health, happiness, peace, prosperity, and power for righteousness.
The New Thought teaching, then, is that the children of men are living souls now, children of God. The first lesson we need to learn is this. The first step we need to take toward a fuller and freer life is to get this consciousness of ourselves as spiritual beings, citizens of a divine universe. It was said of old that, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Once get the spiritual consciousness into our minds and hearts and square our daily thinking to it, and then, as effect follows cause by an unalterable law, so will our physical and social and external lives reveal and manifest the conditions that belong to the human life of God. With the renewal of the ideas that are the continual substance of our thoughts there begins a transformation that affects the whole being. As pictures of diseases and failure and death are banished, life and confidence and health take their places. AH the bodily processes respond to a new feeling in the soul; all the energies are quickened by a new conception of the source of life and power; and we have a scientific demonstration of the truth which was tersely stated in that simple and plain saying of Jesus: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
As a method of healing bodily disease, as a cure for social ills, as a philosophy of life, the New Thought stands squarely on the belief that the remedy for all defect and disorder is metaphysical, beyond the physical, in the realm of causes, which are mental and spiritual. It boldly and confidently makes the claim that, since we are spiritual beings, the source of our life is in God; and it comes forth from Him pure and sound and healthful. To be as explicit as possible, the New Thought does not deny the existence of the body. On the contrary, it would honor and glorify the body as the instrument of an immortal soul. To the soul belong life and health, and by this realization and belief the body may be restored from sickness or kept from disease. Neither does the New Thought deny sickness and pain.* (*Thus it is distinguished from Christian Science. -Ed.) It recognizes that they are facts of life, but it holds that they are not positive realities. They are rather negative conditions, the lack of ease, of harmony, of health. They are disturbances brought into the naturally harmonious life which rightfully belongs to the human race.
Out of our own experience we know that anger, fear, worry, hate, revenge, avarice, grief — in fact, all negative and low emotions — produce weakness and disturbance, not only in the mind, but in the body as well. It has been proved that they actually generate poisons in the body, they depress the circulation; they change the quality of the blood, making it less vital; they affect the great nerve-centers, and thus partially paralyze the very seat of the bodily activities. On the other hand, faith, hope, love, joy, and peace, all emotions that are positive and uplifting, so act on the body as to restore and maintain harmony and actually to stimulate the circulation and nutrition. The heart beats strong and true when love and trust fill the mind. The breathing is deep when confidence and faith are present. The great solar plexus is full of life-giving currents when we are inspired by an abiding knowledge that “in Him we live, and move, and have our being.”
As with bodily diseases, so with social ills: there can be no true reform in the body politic until each individual establishes right relations with his fellows by a correct mental attitude. Armaments and legislative enactments are in vain as long as hatred and injustice and greed are in the heart. The remedy is not new; but it has been taken up with a new emphasis by the advocates of metaphysical methods of reform. We were told ages ago that our highest duty was to do justice and love mercy. We know the Golden Rule, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you do ye even so to them.” But somehow there has come to us a new conception of the oneness of all mankind. We understand, as never before, that we are members one of another. We know that we are all bound up together in a unity of life and a community of interests that cannot be disregarded and outraged. We have discovered that what is done to one is done to all, and that the suffering of the one class is borne by the other. A new thought has come to us also about the drawing power of our true life. Silently, but surely, its influence goes out to many, and so in some measure to all. We have a new realization, too, of the responsiveness of every soul, no matter how sinful it may seem. The sympathetic touch of a loving heart, the quickening power of a brother’s trust, are forces as sure as gravitation. This new knowledge and new thought give us courage and faith, and point the way to the true methods of social reform.
As a philosophy of life, the New Thought takes for its fundamental reality the idea of God as an immanent, indwelling spirit, All- wisdom, All-goodness, ever present in the universe as a warm and tender Father, and not as a cold abstraction. If this statement be true, then evil can have no place in the world as a permanent reality and power. It is not denied that it exists now, but only as an accompaniment of incompleteness. It must be a negative quantity, the absence of good, as darkness is the absence of light. But in man’s erroneous conception it is distorted and clothed with power and reality. In the philosophy of the New Thought, pain, suffering, and so-called misfortune are educative, revealing to us our inharmonious relation to the divine law. Sin and moral evil are largely an ignorant selfishness, — ignorant of an Almighty Love under whose divine providence all things work together for good to those who obey its law.
The Metaphysical Movement exists, then, as the exponent of an optimism so reasonable and yet so forceful that all men will be drawn to it. It would recognize the inherent goodness everywhere. It would not sweep away the grandeur and beauty of the material universe by calling it an illusion and an evil. It believes that the laws and processes of the universe are beneficent, and that the power that is working through it and in it is Wisdom and Love. If this be true, there is absolutely no place for fear and worry. Through true thinking, the New Thought disciple applies this philosophy to every experience of life. The result is a serenity and a poise that are conducive to health, happiness, and power.
The Metaphysical Movement believes in a divine humanity, a human brotherhood with a divine Fatherhood. The Infinite Unity must have diversity to satisfy His necessity for perpetual expression. In each individual we must recognize a divine possibility and a divine instrumentality. The New Thought stands for man’s creative cooperation with the divine will, for his bonds of fellowship and sympathy with his fellow-men, and for the necessity of service as the means of fulfilling the complete life.
The Metaphysical Movement has not come to destroy, but to fulfil. While it is profoundly religious, it is non-sectarian. It teaches the universality of religion; that God’s spirit is more or less active in the minds of all people, and that each individual receives according to his needs and desires. It teaches that there is no problem in life that cannot be solved by a knowledge of the law of God as written in the hearts of men, and by obedience thereto. It believes in present and progressive revelation of truth, but reverently acknowledges our debt to the prophets of God in all ages. Especially in the Christian scriptures are found clear and comprehensive statements of the truth that has power to liberate, to bless, and to heal. This new movement is aglow with an enthusiastic purpose to make this truth practical here and today, to bring the life of God into the everyday lives of men as a power ever making for righteousness, wholeness, happiness, and health. It would proclaim to man his freedom from the necessity of belief in disease, poverty, and all evil as a part of God’s plan.
It is true, as often said, that the New Thought is not new in the elements of truth on which it is based. But in its combination of science, philosophy, and religion, and in its application to the healing of physical, mental, and moral diseases through the development of the spiritual consciousness, it is unique.
Without a formal creed, believing in organization only as it may promote the general good, the New Thought offers the right hand of fellowship to members of every religious denomination. Free to seek instruction and inspiration in the scriptures of all ages and peoples, it has also a large and increasing literature of its own, much of which is so uplifting and yet so practical as to be distinctly helpful. In fact, this phrase aptly characterizes the whole movement, uplifting and yet practical. It stands for the practice of the presence of God reduced to a scientific method of living a selfless* life through union in thought with a power that is love in action. (*That is, unselfish; through true, not negative, self-realization. -Ed.) In this lies its power to draw out the best that is in humanity; to bring sweetness and light and peace into the lives of hundreds of thousands of people; to rob death o£ its sting and pain of its poignancy; to take the terror from disease by proving its powerlessness; to crown the life with the joy and health and abundance which are the rightful inheritance of every child of God.
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The Spirit of The New Thought
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